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Best green car finalists

The carsguide best green car nominations have done nothing, if not underscore the growing acceptance of modern diesel engines as an eco-friendly alternativeto petrol.

Chosen by the eight carsguide car of the year judges, the final five nominations are the result of ruthless trimming from a starting field of some 30 pretenders.

Unlike the carsguide car of the year, the best green car nominees need not be new to the marketplace in the past 12 months, but must be available for sale as a new car in that period.

The field of final nominations was dominated by small, efficient, turbo-charged diesel engines, but was diverse enough to encompass petrol-electric hybrids and small petrol models, right through to the HSV W427.

While it may seem a truly left-field nomination, the rationale behind the single W427 did make sense, In an odd way.

``It's there because it is a car that will be available to buy and the fact is that hardly any of them are going to be driven much,'' carsguide national motoring editor Paul Gover says.

``Just about all of them are going to be locked up in garages. That's pretty green.''

The top five green contenders are:

Audi A3 1.9 TDIe Sportback

More than just an efficient small diesel - which it is - the A3 Sportback is the vanguard of Audi's eco-philosophy. As well as the mechanics, the A3 earns its green tag because of the little things, such as better rolling-efficiency tyres, a more fuel-efficient gearing and improvements in aerodynamics.

Neil McDonald, of Melbourne's The Herald Sun, said of the A3: ``The German answer to the runaway marketing success of hybrids. The 1.9 delivers a hybrid-quenching 4.5-litres-for-100km. That's excellent, in anyone's language. And the Audi badge will impress the neighbours.''

Fiat 500 JTD

The Fiat ticks the boxes with its small engine - just 1.3 litres - and super-efficient JTD diesel technology. That it's as cute as, and uses less resources in manufacturing because of its size, don't hurt either. 

Honda Civic Hybrid

For some time this has been the ``other'' hybrid available in Australia. While Toyota's Prius led the way, the Civic Hybrid has continued on quietly, with a slightly smaller engine and a noticeably smaller price tag.

Hyundai i30 CRDi

Back to defend its title, the little Korean hatch can still hold its head high. The small diesel has credits both in fuel efficiency and emissions.

Mercedes A180 CDi

New to the Mercedes A-Class range, the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is strong on refinement and economy, with 80kW/250Nm. It also shares in Mercedes' ``whole of life'' eco-friendly approach to car manufacturing.

Hobart's The Mercury's Keith Didham summed up the A180 CDi as: ``For the thinking man who desires the Benz badge, but doesn't want to feel guilty driving it.'


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